Holding facility for BLM wild horses proposed at Correctional Center | NevadaAppeal.com

Holding facility for BLM wild horses proposed at Correctional Center

Susie Vasquez, Appeal Staff Writer
Guard Rails will be used for portions of a new coral at the Northern Nevada Correctional Center where wild horses will be held until they can be trained. NNCC will house up to 500 horses in the large coral on top of their 550 cattle already housed on 1,000 acres. Photo by Brian Corley

Correctional Center where wild horses will be held until they can be trained. | Brian Corley

Wild horses gathered from Nevada’s range could wind up at Northern Nevada Correctional Center’s prison dairy as soon as January. The final details haven’t been hammered out yet, but officials on both sides are optimistic.

“We’ve been working on this for about a year and we’re close to an agreement,” said Terry Woosley, spokesman for the Bureau of Land Management. “We prepare these horses for adoption at Palomino Valley and when we exceed that capacity, the horses will be held at the prison until we can either adopt them out or find a sanctuary.

“It’s a win-win situation for the Bureau of Land Management and Nevada,” he said. “We get the additional holding space and the department of corrections can develop more job opportunities for inmates.”

Once the new facility is operating smoothly he expects to extend the program to the Warm Springs Correctional Center, where the horses can be gentled by inmates before adoption.

A similar but smaller program is now in place, both at the prison dairy and the correctional center. Overseen by the Nevada Department of Agriculture, it was created for wild horses that don’t come under the purview of the Bureau and are gathered from private lands in Storey County’s Virginia Range.

The land management agency has a number of similar training programs and holding facilities throughout the west including Susanville, Calif., Riverton, Wyo., Canyon City, Colo. and Hutchinson, Kan.

The new facility will include four holding corrals, a round pen, a hydraulic squeeze shoot, sick pens and sorting pens. All will be located on about 10 acres. The prison farm encompasses 1,100 acres and currently holds about 550 cattle. Should the project be approved, the farm could be home to up to 500 horses, said prison farm manager Tim Bryant.

He said construction of the pens was started in October and they should be completed by January, weather permitting. He’s optimistic the agreement will be approved and feels it’s a worthwhile effort.

“Prison Industries are self-funded. This will be a stable source of income and jobs, in addition to providing funding for additional prison programs for inmates,” he said.

According to John McCuin, administrative services officer for Prison Industries, the money for this project is coming from the Prison Industries Dairy budget, the cost estimated at about $130,000.

“The BLM will reimburse us above and beyond the normal per diem per horse until the cost is regained, probably in less than two years,” he said.

BLM is not guaranteeing a certain number of horses will be held at the facility, but Prison Industries will be reimbursed on a sliding scale. For example, if fewer than 149 horses are held, the Bureau will be charged $4.89 per day, per horse — the maximum. When the facility is full, the agency will be charged $2.70 per day, per horse.

Nevada Prison Industries will purchase the feed and provide the care for these animals, contracting with a local veterinarian for medical care.

Nationwide, about 8,000 horses are adopted annually from the bureau’s programs, but only 200 are from Nevada, according to Woosley. The annual budget for this program, including adoptions, gathering and holding, is about $29 million.